“Pass him! Pass him!! Pass!!! Him!!!!” I screamed louder and louder until my voice grew horse.
The cross country runners were less than twenty yards from the finish line and closing and my boy was just inches from passing the runner in front of him. I knew he could take him. And he did.
(Okay, full disclosure, he isn’t actually my son, he is my son’s best friend. However, I love and feed him like my own, so I feel like I can claim him and even embarrass him if the need arises. He’ll thank me later. Anyways, back to the moment at hand…)
I cheered even louder as he crossed the finish line, beaming with pride. I knew he could do it.
It was then that I realized I was getting some dirty looks from the other moms who were gathered to watch the runners finish the race…
I was so caught up being excited for my guy that I didn’t stop to think about the kid he was passing… or his mother. Now I wondered if she was one of the ones staring me down.
Have you ever been so wrapped up in the moment you forgot that there were other people involved?
I Took My Eyes Off Jesus
I stepped over to where my husband was and let him know I was going to go congratulate our boys. He gave me an odd look as only the first fifteen or so runners had finished the race and we normally wait for our entire team to finish before heading to the tent. Nevertheless, I quietly excused myself and headed that way, silently pondering what had just happened. I definitely hadn’t been pointing anyone to Jesus just then.
I was so caught up in the moment I took my eyes of Christ.
Yes, kids need encouragement. They need to know someone believes in them and stands behind them. My husband and I try to do that for all the kids in our community. But especially for our children and a select few we seem to have the most contact with. Regardless of their home life. We believe you can never have too many people in your corner.
And when we go to cross country meets we have always tried to cheer for all the runners and encourage everyone; no matter what school they are from or place they are in.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but running cross country is hard.
I sure couldn’t do it.
A Look At The Life Of A Cross Country Athlete
My son gets up at 5 am every day for practice.
On Friday nights, they get home from the football game around midnight and have to be back up at the school sometimes by 4 am Saturday morning to leave for a cross country meet. And then they run five miles.
When they get home they just want to sleep for the rest of the day. I’m not kidding. I’ve seen them sleep 18+ hours. They came home from a meet on Saturday and slept until Sunday morning when it was time to get ready for church. These kids were exhausted.
But they love it.
So, my husband and I do everything we can to support and encourage runners when we are able to make it to the meets. (We don’t always wake our entire family up at 4 am to travel with the team – #sorrynotsorry.)
Loving Encouragement Gone Wrong
But this time my encouragement of one runner who I love might have damaged my witness for Jesus.
It was something I needed to think about. Something I needed to pray about.
But to be honest, this was deeper than a need to encourage, this was my mama bear instincts in overdrive. And my mama bear instincts almost always get me into trouble. They seem to override my “good Christian mom” normal routine.
Even though I am always a hot mess, I’m normally a quiet hot mess. I prefer to sit on the sidelines unnoticed and encourage my family while we are driving home from school or at home alone.
Even cheering on runners at cross country meets takes me out of my comfort zone. It’s something I have decided I need to do. Something I should do.
But my mama bear instincts are loud and proud. They aren’t afraid to speak up to be heard. To stand up for my kids.
I’ve come to realize that while normally mama bear instincts are a good thing and the need to protect your children is a God-given instinct, they are also tainted by sin.
My Mama Bear Instincts & Sinful Nature
When my instinct to protect my kids overrules rational thinking, that’s no longer good. And that’s the only explanation for what happened that time I chewed out the principle at the school and then had to call back and apologize. I knew I should have prayed about it, but I didn’t want to.
And the same thing was true when I was so focused on my kid getting a better place in the race that I forgot everyone else at that cross country meet had feelings, too. That runner he passed probably gets up just as early and trains just as hard. I can only imagine how it must have felt to get passed at the very last moment after running so hard the entire race. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to hear someone yelling for someone to pass you instead of to hear someone cheering for you.
Yet, if I stop here on those thoughts, I would be left feeling like a failure. Yes, I got carried away. I made a mistake. But instead of letting Satan use that failure to beat me up, I am clinging to Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus.
Jesus > My Failures
I don’t have to live in that mistake. I don’t have to live in that failure. It doesn’t define me.
My mama bear instincts might have run amuck, but they are not greater than my Savior. They are not stronger than my Jesus.
Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Including sins I commit when I let my mama bear instincts get carried away.
Because of Jesus I am already, always and forever, forgiven.
My hope is in Him and my prayer is that He will help me keep my eyes on Him so that I don’t get carried away again.
I pray that He helps me to remember that every single teenager needs to know the love of Jesus. And I am supposed to be a beacon shining that love to those around me. I can’t do that if my focus shifts from Jesus to one single individual. Even if God has given me that individual to love.
Join the Conversation
I don’t know if you have any cross country runners in your life, but have you ever let something take your focus off Jesus? Whether it’s your mama bear instincts, something work related, or something else entirely? Have you ever felt yourself get distracted and noticed a change in your demeanor? I’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation in the comments below.
Her mama bear instincts might have run amuck, but they are not greater than our Savior; they are not stronger than our Jesus.
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